What is a WordPress theme?


What is WordPress?

Firstly let’s clear up any confusion about what WordPress is. Simply put, WordPress allows anyone, individuals and organisations, to build websites and blogs. In more technical terms, WordPress is a free content management system (CMS) that is open to the public. It utilises features such as plugins and themes. It is also the most widely used tool for building websites in the world.

Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
—Henry Ford

How does a WordPress theme work?

The term ‘theme’ is used as an umbrella concept that includes things like page layout templates and stylesheets for colours and headings. A host of profession-specific themes such as a photography theme for wedding photographers or a restaurant theme for a pizza joint or coffee shop are available. General use themes which can be implemented for a variety of websites are also available. These themes can be further adjusted and tweaked through the use of plugins.

A template in WordPress forms a foundation or skeleton for content to be added to, modified and removed. Content can include images, text and videos.

Stylesheets in web development dictate how and where content is displayed. I always remember this as a rulebook which tells your browser, Google Chrome, Opera, FireFox or Microsoft Edge, how the content of a website needs to be displayed. It is the instruction for the browser that the font on a website is a specific size, an image is displayed at that particular place, etc. This is arguably one of the most important aspects of a WordPress theme.

How much does a WordPress theme cost?

Some WordPress themes are free. WordPress comes with a few bundled in to give you a start when building a website. These themes can be limited in their functionality, power and overall ease of use but they give bloggers and small businesses an opportunity to have an online presence with minimal effort.

Of course there is also the option of buying a theme. Usually paid for themes are more versatile and flexible. They offer so much more in terms of how sleek a website can look, how much more control you have in terms of page design and some of the time, you can design your own page layout templates to use across your website.

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What is a WordPress plugin?

Plugins are free or paid for extras you can add to your website or blog. They are generally quite niche and often offer something specific to the website. An example of this can be a popup for a competition that gets displayed when someone visits your site; a gallery to showcase beautiful artwork and images; or a plugin to make your website more secure and less likely to be hacked or broken into. You can get more powerful plugins that monitor how many people visit your site and how much time they’ve spent on different pages as well.

Plugins aren’t always necessary as many themes have features built in that plugins offer, making sure there are ‘less cogs that need oiling’. Plugins can be a weak spot for hackers to target so only having necessary ones is a more prudent approach.

As with anything, if you have the budget and spend some cash, you can get your hands on some pretty powerful themes and plugins ultimately making your WordPress themed website more and more standalone and a cut above the rest. If you don’t have the funds available it’s okay, the free themes are more than capable of delivering a great looking website.

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